On July 31, 2017, Dr. Mar Brettmann of BEST provided training to a group of over 200 hotel owners and associates at the Independent Hoteliers Conference hosted by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). Independent hotels are the properties that are not aligned with national brands.
“Owners of these hotels face unique risks if they are unaware that human trafficking could occur on their premises,” explained Dr. Brettmann. “By getting themselves and their staff trained to identify and prevent human trafficking and commercial sex work, owners are able to increase safety and security and protect their properties from civil and criminal liability.”
Dr. Brettmann showed several clips from the online training that AAHOA sponsored. The training helps hotel staff understand the facts about sex trafficking and the harm it causes. For example, people frequently assume that sex trafficking victims are from outside of the US. In reality, the majority of victims who are recovered are vulnerable American children and women. Knowing this fact enables hotel staff to recognize children who might be harmed by traffickers and buyers.
Hotel staff may also feel uncomfortable when they suspect prostitution. Or maybe they look the other way because they believe that it is a victimless crime between two consenting adults. In reality, the typical age of entry of youth into prostitution is between 13-15 years old. And once someone is exploited for sex at such a young age, it is very difficult for them to escape. Understanding this reality enables hoteliers to extend empathy and a helping hand to people who are prostituted.
The training Dr. Brettmann provided also covered strategies for independent hoteliers and their staff to be vigilant of labor trafficking as well. She shared the example of a recent trafficking survivor from a hotel in Seattle. The young woman came to the US to live with an uncle and attend school. But, when she arrived, her uncle found a job for her, controlled her movements, took her paycheck, threatened her, and abused her in his home. She finally got help when a colleague and neighbor noticed the abuse she was experiencing and helped her escape. Hotel owners can help to prevent this type of victimization by posting signs for employees that provide information about their rights in the US and the human trafficking hotline.
“BEST feels extremely privileged to support AAHOA as they work hard to raise awareness among their members,” said Dr. Brettmann. “Our training and ongoing support for AAHOA would not be possible without our generous sponsors and donors who want to empower hotel owners and staff to end this terrible harm of children, women, and men.”
BEST extends a special word of thanks to the sponsors of our hotel training: The Northwest Chapter of AAHOA, StolenYouth, Red Roof Inns, and Carlson Family Foundation.